Residents of the Georgian capital had a wet and dour experience at midnight yesterday, when heavy rains turned a gentle stream into a raging river. The ensuing heavy flooding and chaos has killed at least 12 people and set loose wild animals from the Tbilisi Zoo.
Three of the victims were found within the zoo, with a dead pony and lion. As of now, several bears, tigers, wolves and lions are still wandering the city. A hippopotamus was cornered in the city square and tranquilized. Many more animals were shot by the special forces or killed from the flooding.
Residents were warned this weekend to stay indoors until the animals have been brought under control. Three victims were found inside the zoo where it was described as a “hellish whirlpool”. It’s uncertain if their deaths were the cause of animal attacks, flooding or both.
Officials asked residents to stay inside until the animals have been found and the flooding has abated. The main streets are still hostile, with the flood sweeping away cars and houses. Thousands of residents are without electricity and water, while many more were airlifted to safety.
The estimated infrastructure damage is estimated to be around $10m. Old cemeteries close to the river were washed up with coffins laying on the mud. Many areas of the city are currently uninhabitable while many residents are in shelters.
The Tbilisi City Hall Facebook page has announced that rebuilding from the community is already under way. To keep updated with the restoration or to find out how to donate, go to the City Hall Facebook page.